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National Magnet Nurse of the Year Award

Recognizing the outstanding contributions of clinical nurses

In 2014, for the second time in three years, a nurse at The University of Kansas Health System has been named one of five National Magnet Nurses of the Year® by The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the same organization that awards Magnet status on hospitals.

Debbie Pennington, RN, BSN, clinical program coordinator for the nation’s first Neonatal Medical Home, received the honor today at the ANCC National Magnet Conference in Dallas.

The award debuted in 2011, with categories of winners representing Magnet model components: Transformational Leadership; Structural Empowerment; Exemplary Professional Practice; New Knowledge, Innovations & Improvements; and Empirical Outcomes.


2014 National Magnet Nurse of the Year Helps Establish First Neonatal Medical Home in the Nation

Pennington said the clinic sees about 700 patients through age 5, most of them “graduates” from our NICU. The clinic's staff is a single point of contact for these medically complex children.  The clinic has achieved remarkably high levels of immunization rates and visit compliance rates.

Pennington said the impressive results reflect the relationships parents developed with physicians and others on the healthcare team during their babies’ first days in our NICU.

“It’s all about continuity,” she said. “As their children age, parents like knowing they can continue to see the same providers and specialists. Our goal always is to provide as much service as possible within one clinic visit.”

“Debbie’s work with the Neonatal Medical Home illustrates what nursing is all about,” Tammy Peterman, RN, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer of The University of Kansas Health System, said. “She and her team knew that parents of premature infants were having to shuttle between physician offices to keep their children healthy. She and Dr. Prabhu Parimi formed a great partnership to solve the problem by creating a one-stop medical home.  It has been a tremendous aid to parents and their children.”

The Kansas City Royals have named the Neonatal Medical Home as the recipient of the club's Royals Charities Diamond of Dreams for two years running. Pennington is one of five National Magnet Nurses of the Year named by The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).


2012 National Magnet Nurse of the Year Innovates While Keeping the Comfort of the Patient as Top Priority

Melanie H. Simpson, PhD, RN-BC, OCN, CHPN, coordinator of the Pain Management Resource Team at The University of Kansas Hospital, was named one of five National Magnet Nurses of the Year in 2012.

Melanie Simpson, Magnet Nurse of the Year

Simpson won in the Exemplary Professional Practice category. Only clinical nurses from Magnet-recognized facilities could be nominated.

In her nomination, Simpson's peers described her as an innovator and role model: "Melanie Simpson has dedicated her nursing career to the prevention and alleviation of pain. She incorporates evidence-based pain management strategies into practice."

Helped form team
Simpson, who started in oncology, uses her breadth of clinical knowledge to educate others about evidence-based pain management.

She joined the hospital in 1996 and helped form the pain management team in 2001. She also founded the Coalition for Comprehensive Pain Management, in which hospital clinicians and representatives from the University of Kansas Medical Center's three schools convene quarterly to discuss the latest evidence-based pain management research.

With the hospital's pain management team, certified pain management nurses meet with patients, identify risk factors and collaborate to provide individualized treatment plans. Hospital executives note nurse-led pain management programs are rare – but so are nurses like Simpson.

"Melanie is someone who has put the comfort of the patient at the top of her priority list," said Tammy Peterman, RN, MS, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. 

"She is not only an advocate for successful pain management for patients but a role model for nurses on how to use skill, knowledge and passion to make a difference at the bedside and beyond."

Satisfaction in work
As for Simpson, she noted the award is a thrill, but so is the satisfaction she gets every day.

"It is certainly overwhelming to receive a national recognition for years of hard work," she said. "But I am rewarded every day when I see patients' pain eased or provide a resource to a caregiver on how to make a patient more comfortable.

"I get to see hundreds of nurses at the hospital every day who are working to make a difference in patients' lives," Simpson added. "I look at awards like these as belonging to the entire nursing staff who put patient care first."

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